The inauguration of president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa has been delayed amid a court challenge to his election victory, officials confirmed Friday.
The ceremony – which was due to be held on Sunday – has been postponed while the Constitutional Court consider claims by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa that last month’s poll was rigged.
“There will not be any inauguration this Sunday until this matter has been resolved in the courts,” said Chamisa’s lawyer Thabani Mpofu said.
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi concurred, saying; “It (inauguration) will no longer happen. For now, it will stay pending until the court challenge determination.”
Mnangagwa won 50.8% of the vote while Chamisa’s polled 44.3% in Zimbabwe’s first election since Robert Mugabe was ousted after 37 years as president in November.
Chamisa, leader of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), tweeted: “Our legal team successfully filed our court papers. We have a good case and cause!!”
Jameson Timba, a senior member of the MDC, said his party “will rest when this country is liberated”.
Mnangagwa’s inauguration was postponed as soon as the challenge was filed. A ruling is expected within two weeks.
MDC must prove that any polling irregularities were widespread enough to change the outcome of the vote.
Judges could declare a winner, call another election, or order a run-off or recount, the Veritas legal group said.
Chamisa wants the constitutional court to declare him the winner or call a fresh election, it is reported.
The conduct of the election was largely deemed sound by international monitors, but representatives of the EU noted Mnangagwa benefited from an “un-level playing field” and some voter intimidation.
“We’ve managed to place before the court forms that show the (results) figures were erased,” Chamisa’s Thanbani Mpofu said.
“We are seeking a declaration to the effect that the presidential election was not properly conducted.
“The respondents have three days to respond to the court petition and the matter must be heard and be determined within 14 days from the day of petitioning, according to the Constitution.
“I am ready to protect the millions who voted for my client.”
The ruling party was quick to dismiss the bid.
“I am confident they have no case,” Zanu PF PF legal secretary Paul Mangwana said.
“Elections are not won in court, they are won in the field. But if they want to meet us in court we have sufficient legal minds to meet them squarely in court.”
At least six people were killed in violence that erupted after the vote as security forces clashed with MDC supporters who alleged that Chamisa had been robbed of victory.